How to make 2012 your best year yet

Congratulations; you made it through 2011! How was your year? Was it a year of big, bold changes or did you scrape by on a wing and a prayer? Whichever it was, you must be doing something right to still be in business. So here we are, peering over the edge of 2011 to a brand new year. What's it got in store for you? Over the next few days we'll be catching our breath at Ditto and putting pen to paper to formalise our plans for 2012. So here goes - some of my tips for planning your best year ever. Think Big

Throw all reservations out of the window for a moment and think about where you'd love your business to be if nothing stood in your way. Perhaps you want to change to bigger and better premises, expand your business or hire new staff - whatever it is, be ambitious. As soon as you've set your thoughts in motion, you'll be on the path to achieving what you want.

Set Goals

I know it can feel uncomfortable to set yourself big profit targets, and sometimes it feels a little safer to lower your sights to something that feels a bit more attainable. But if you don't aim high, you'll never get there! So whatever your goals are, financial or otherwise, commit them to paper. I dare you.

Make a plan

How are you going to achieve your goals? The strength of your marketing will be key here, so get really creative with the ways in which you can promote yourself. Brainstorm your biggest and best ideas and whittle them down to those which are realistic for your budget. The temptation always exists to take more of a reactive approach to your business and marketing activities, but this sort of knee-jerk response is rarely going to yield ground breaking sales. Make a plan for regular, measurable marketing activity and make sure you see it through.

Evaluate your brand

Is your brand effectively communicating your message? Does it tie in with your bigger plan? If you've undergone a change of direction this year - or plan to in 2012 - your brand may no longer align with your values. In our brand and social media workshop in January, we'll be working on identifying your niche in the market and creating a powerful brand which will help propel your business forwards. We have just a few places left; why not join us for an inspirational kick-start to the year?

Don't forget you

What do you want to achieve personally this year? As our wonderful business mentor, Sam Ithell, reminded me this year - your business should be no more than a vehicle to give you the lifestyle you want. We're all guilty of devoting more time to the business than ourselves, but do take a moment to think about what you want to do this year, too. I will if you will ;-)

I won't pretend that all of this planning malarky is easy - far from it. At Ditto we've got some projects in mind which take us way out of our comfort zone, and I'd be lying if I said that that's not just a teensy bit scary. Will they work as well in practice as they do on paper? I hope so! I'd love to hear what you've got in store for next year. Here's to a great year!